GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – You can’t get the right answer if you keep asking the wrong question.

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A question this neoliberal government and previous ones continue to ask is:
“How can people get to own a home?”
There are very, very limited answers to that question.
But if you ask :
“How can we give people security of tenure in a healthy, warm, dry, afforable home?” then lots of alterative answers emerge.
Such as long term leasing.
This would mean not relying on Mum and Dad private investors to house our people but creating large government funding mechanisms to do it eg. by insisting that the Superannuation Fund invest a set percentage of their profits in long term housing investments and reinstating the State Advances. Corporation.
In short the government has to regain control of the mortgage market it abdicated to the privately owned banks in the early 1980’s
This approach has worked in Berlin for example where citizens get lifelong leases on their apartments at government controlled and affordable rents ( and yes people can decorate their homes as they wish as long as they don’t make structural alterations.)
You can find out about other solutions to our housing problems by watching my documentary Who Owns New Zealand Now? which I made almost 5 years ago now. (Especially the last couple of parts which deal with solutions).

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Yep. In continental Europe and the UK, people have also long lived with long term leases. I redecorated in inner London without it being an issue, as did my neighbours.

    With eg curtains and a kitchen stove not provided in a Westminster apartment we provided them ourselves, expected to, and left them on site, which was also not an issue. Everything, absolutely everything, does need to be rethought urgently about how to house New Zealanders, and without being ever so conveniently diverted and sidetracked onto peripheral issues, possibly for the purpose of pissing off the more privileged onlooker punters.

    State Advances Corporation ? Perhaps somebody could oblige me, and explain to me what exactly was wrong with it, and why it had to be abolished.

    Perhaps someone could explain to me the justification for giving so many of our beautiful young children such a crippling start to their innocent lives.

    I want to know the raison d’être for govt pursing policy designed to make kids feel bad about themselves.

    • I rented in NZ before the woke invasion and we loved our student 4 bedroom damp villas with kitchens and bathrooms so inadequate the tenancy tribunal would be arresting the landlord by todays woke standards. I never rang the landlord to change my light bulb, clean up the mould (we opened windows in those days) etc. Once I asked our landlord if we could pull up the disgusting carpet (again landlord would be arrested by today’s standards) to polish the wood floors at our own cost.

      Sadly it is the privileged renters like Marama who have 6 figure jobs driving the stupidity of renter entitlement where the landlords have to supply a woke standard government already knew most housing would not be able to obtain without tens of thousands of upgrades. Once upgraded they are worth a fortune and sold to owner occupiers not rented out.

      Funny enough I also think we had less health problems (both mental and physical) in those days when cold, damp, houses (sic) is all you got to rent!

      I don’t have a problem with insulation and heat pumps, but it has gone too far in favour of encouraging woke hipsters to think the landlords are an extension of their parents while the real victims are those renters who are not privileged, without the gift of the gab and woke media complaints hotline, and will be the ones forced into the emergency housing and motels on mass.

    • Snow White: “State Advances Corporation? Perhaps somebody could oblige me, and explain to me what exactly was wrong with it, and why it had to be abolished.”

      There was nothing wrong with it at all. In fact, as public servants on transfer in the early 1970s, we got a State Advances house loan. It bought us an old house badly in need of renovation, but with good bones. And – like so many of our generation – we did it up, paying for it out of income.

      But – like so much that was good about this society back then – it fell victim to Rogernomics.

      • State advance corporation were racist that is why the Ministry of Maori Affairs had to step into house Maori. I was a tenant for many years and if you were a Maori you usually got put in a one of those ugly blocks (the ones national knocked down and gentrified) or you got put in the industrial areas or bronxs like areas.

  2. Yep. In continental Europe and the UK, people have also long lived with long term leases. I redecorated in inner London without it being an issue, as did my neighbours.

    With eg curtains and a kitchen stove not provided in a Westminster apartment we provided them ourselves, expected to, and left them on site, which was also not an issue. Everything, absolutely everything, does need to be rethought urgently about how to house New Zealanders, and without being ever so conveniently diverted and sidetracked onto peripheral issues, possibly for the purpose of pissing off the more privileged onlooker punters.

    State Advances Corporation ? Perhaps somebody could oblige me, and explain to me what exactly was wrong with it, and why it had to be abolished.

    Perhaps someone could explain to me the justification for giving so many of our beautiful young children such a crippling start to their innocent lives.

    I want to know the raison d’être for govt pursing policy designed to make kids feel bad about themselves.

    • “State Advances Corporation ? Perhaps somebody could oblige me, and explain to me what exactly was wrong with it, and why it had to be abolished.”

      Exactly!!!!!!!

    • “State Advances Corporation ? Perhaps somebody could oblige me, and explain to me what exactly was wrong with it, and why it had to be abolished.”

      Exactly!!!!!!!

  3. The best doco bar none I’ve watched on NZ housing. Very telling.

    What’s unfolded with prominent NZ politicians in regard deliberately masking the true state of Chinese investment in the NZ housing market has been an epic conflict of interest.

    The Government has also again failed to address the morally corrupt situation we have on a large scale during a housing crisis of land banking and big numbers of housing investors keeping their investment property vacant long term. Selfish greed is all around us and has been relentlessly promoted. Can you imagine going to war with these leeches? I’m sure their friends in high places would ensure they were gifted a free pass. A good thing for sure as they are the last personality type I’d want to watch the back of Kiwi’s fighting for our country.

    treason
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    the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government.
    “they were convicted of treason”
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    the action of betraying someone or something.
    plural noun: treasons
    “doubt is the ultimate treason against faith”
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  4. If you are servant of the money-lenders you cannot do anything that affects their control of society or their profits, and will continue to make all aspects of society and the environment worse whilst pretending to make them better,

    Jacinda and Grant are servants of the money-lenders.

  5. The key political task of the next 5 years has to be building support and organising to “retire” neo liberalism for good. This rotten system is deeply embedded in the NZ State structurally and legislatively, and after 35 years culturally, among much of the populace, even though at least half of them do not like the effects of Roger’n’Ruth’s toxic legacy one little bit.

  6. Our government has opened the borders to anybody who wants to come and live in NZ. Within a very short period of time many qualify for social welfare and all other types of support if they need it (aka health care, emergency support, food parcels). If migrants circumstances change and their visa is not valid, they can apply to the protection tribunal who lets anybody with a child, crims, mentally ill, anybody worse off if they leave (most people who come to NZ) to stay.

    This then means that a million people came here within a decade that all need housing and services in NZ (whether visitor, temporary resident, permanent resident, overstayer, detained in jail) but many contribute very little to NZ and increasingly it’s coming out that NZ is attracting fraudsters who do clumsy and brazen frauds that go on for years. Good Character is not important in NZ.

    To stop this, government need to go back to the immigration policies they used to have 30 years ago when visitors to NZ had to pass a stricter criteria like language test, real tests of employment, stop the foreign student Ponzi that is failing kids in NZ with poorer and poorer outcomes, and upgrade the proof and ability to support yourself in NZ if anything goes wrong (aka migrants just borrowing the money is part of the problem as they come and then turn to crime to pay back the loans with huge interest to often gangs and criminal moneylenders) of the fake documentation. You should not be able to ‘buy’ your way into NZ with ‘investing’ for 4 years (pathetic), come on a work/student visa and have kids, turn to crime, become mentally ill and never leave. They also need to make sure visitors have health insurance and ask for a ‘bond’ in case they need to be deported home.

    Government seem unable to fathom that local poor will never be able to afford any house to buy because of our poor wages and work conditions that make it impossible to get ahead for most families. Domestic students have now even given up studying, why bother, the education is aimed at ‘bums on seats’, jobs and promotions are granted to offshore people which is part of the problem as yet another ‘newby’ comes in to ‘fix’ NZ business but often have major issues

    Some are on the run from previous crimes or gambling addictions.

    Woman who stole $1 million from Canterbury DHB named as Antoanette Du Preez
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/woman-who-stole-1-million-from-canterbury-dhb-named-as-antoanette-du-preez/XNBIV2NHHDGUQJIQ4XA4MOKWUI/

    In the Joanne Harrison case like many coming to NZ and getting plum jobs here, documents show that Joanne Harrison was not some sophisticated operator capable of bewitching and beguiling honest and astute civil servants. She was a brassy and clumsy fraudster who got spotted really early – three years before any action was taken at the top. She was spotted early by people who then subsequently suffered at the hands of Harrison.
    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/21-07-2017/the-ministry-of-transport-fraud-case-why-the-rot-goes-deeper-than-joanne-harrison/

    Sadly that is the management culture of NZ!

    So no wonder everyone in NZ is deluded with the notion that immigration is not a factor and needs to be addressed as the number one contributor to poverty and debt levels in NZ.

  7. I called out Kiwibuild as yet another Rogernomics policy of selling off state house land into private hands while pretending it was not that. The lefties were dancing in the streets of delusion and now have come down to reality when Kiwibuild made things worse,.

    Now the lefties are dancing in the streets thinking more tax will help, nope will make it worse just like Kiwibuild mentality. Instead government still favour the ‘trickle down’ methods by adding billions of tax dollars to corporate construction welfare.

  8. Berlin is one glowing example of public housing, but the real game-changer may be Vienna. This is what happens when state housing is not just to house those most in need, but to compete with the private sector and encourage high quality with reasonable prices.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6DBKoWbtjE

    If the government tried to compete with the private sector in this way, the landowning classes would be properly screwed.

    • Comparing apples with oranges. Firstly Germany had huge supply of housing after reunification. Secondly workers in Germany have decent working standards and wages as well as a functioning public transport system, so they can live in one place most of their lives. The same does not apply to NZ workers, where people are often very transient due to losing their jobs and spending significant amounts of time commuting to various contract/casual gig jobs that are increasingly replacing employment in NZ with no benefits.

      In Germany, renters have much smaller houses, no car parking, are expected to put in their own kitchens and upon leaving take it out again, while ensuring the place is in exactly the same condition as when they first rented it. (no wear and tear, you are expected to paint the place if it needs it yourself). When you see German houses they generally keep their houses spotless – quite different from many other countries including NZ. Also do not think Germany have the level of drugs problems that plague NZ. In 2019 New Zealanders spent nearly $1.4 million cash on methamphetamine every single day, according to police analysis of three months of drug testing of wastewater. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/methamphetamine-still-the-drug-of-choice-in-new-zealand-according-to-new-police-data-from-national-wastewater-testing/OW2ZH5V7YBU6FX3LTSRHN6WJ6E/

      Housing solutions in NZ needs to be looking at the big picture of what goes on in NZ and ways to remedy it.

      • A very cynical view saveNZ especially when the unrelated reference to methamphetamine diversion was added. Perhaps it would have paid for you to look at current apartment trends in Wellington, Auckland and no doubt elsewhere if public transport is mildly efficient. There are an increasing number of apartment blocks being designed with an average of about 60 or so sq m floorspace, no facilities for parking, many are built to a very high standard and renters are included in the occupancy. These projects are being built by the private sector but on-selling to the ‘investor’ class means that the pricing Ponzi scheme is moving the units out of the realms of reasonable rents. To suggest the Government couldn’t do the same as Berlin or Vienna shows either a lack of imagination or a threatened landlord. In your case, it is charitably suggested that the former applies.

        • Methamphetamine and other drugs have become a massive issue in NZ and drug dealers are making massive profits! Clearly this effects housing and the ability to pay for it!

          For an even greater contrast, Savage points to 2003 – the year methamphetamine became a class A substance – when just three kilograms was seized.

          “We have a huge problem with it. There’s a lot of people using it.”

          “The prices that we pay for it here are much higher than the rest of the world and basically trans-national organised crime groups, cartels in Mexico and South America as well as the more traditional organised crime groups in China and Southeast Asia, have cottoned on to this.”

          “A kilogram of meth can be produced in Mexico or China for just a few hundred to a thousand dollars. That’s probably worth $5000 in Mexico or the US if it gets to the border.

          “You bring that same kilogram here and the market price for a kilogram is anywhere between $180,000 and $350,000.”

          Basically, with a waiting base of buyers willing to pay $100 for 0.1 grams of meth – New Zealand is an attractive proposition for smugglers.

          “I’ve been in this organisation for 36 years … and I never thought I’d see these types of numbers,” says Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry.

          Berry notes a worrying shift in importation patterns. While in the past meth was smuggled in ‘to-order’, the drugs are now being imported in bulk and stockpiled.

          “They’re starting to send big shipments to pre-position their product for distribution.”

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/the-detail/115940389/the-detail-new-zealands-rampant-drug-culture

      • Drugs are far more available in Germany than in NZ ,,, and have been for a long time ,,, remember Christiane F? ,,,, most of the true life characters died of over-doses .
        ‘David Bowie – Heroes [Christiane F https://youtu.be/E9BbXD-wRfA

        spoiler alert end of jo jo rabbit https://youtu.be/33r_bugSpfA

        The largest quantity and value of recreational psychoactive drugs in NZ would be :
        1) Alcohol ,,, by a country mile. Approx $85 Million PER WEEK
        2) Cannabis ,,,, with approx 80% of 21 year olds having tried it.
        3) Probably Meth ,,, and probably because of our Drug Policy Abuse ,,, huge profit margins on something which probably costs no more to make than laundry powder ,,, and importing safer alternatives like Ecstasy, Cocaine or LSD comes with long ,,,up to life jail sentences.

        The National party and other pushers of Neo-Lib let it be / let them suffer ideology ,,,, like to blame drugs for failures in society ,,, things like people living in cars…….It shifts the blame from the policy choices they have made and implemented.
        *********************************************

        NZ needs to fight corruption ,,, fight climate change ,,,, and build a shitload of state houses ,,,, not doing the ‘right thing’ hurts us and the world.

        ‘The Sarawak Timber Mafia’s Global Menace’ “The big 6 have been Samling, Rimbunan Hijau, WTK, KTS, Shin Yang and Ta Ann” https://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/06/the-sarawak-timber-mafias-global-menace/

        ” These companies have used big money and bribery to spearhead their destructive resource-grabs from South East Asia, to Africa, America, Australasia and beyond.” …. New Zealand should be on this list.

        “On top of illegally logging the area without community consent and causing irreversible damage to the environment, the loggers were accused of promising to build roads, schools and clinics which never materialised; sexually exploiting local women and of using police to intimidate landowners” https://www.sarawakreport.org/2020/02/how-sarawaks-timber-barons-samling-are-still-evading-a-multi-million-dollar-court-judgement-in-png/

        https://www.sarawakreport.org/2019/10/no-profits-from-malaysia-and-papua-new-guinea-but-vast-assets-in-nz/

        Needles to say the above crooks and huge NZ land owners structure their affairs to pay no or fuck all tax.,,,, Asset stripping.

        Which is another problem NZ ( and the world ) suffers from
        https://www.sciencealert.com/tax-havens-are-subsidizing-the-destruction-of-the-environment-new-study-claims

      • ‘Firstly Germany had huge supply of housing after reunification’.

        After the Second World War, much of the housing stock was bombed flat, so the success story of German housing by 1989 was built out of a far worse housing crisis than anything New Zealand has ever seen.

        ‘Secondly workers in Germany have decent working standards and wages as well as a functioning public transport system, so they can live in one place most of their lives’.

        This means that we need a holistic approach, where solutions to the housing crisis take broader infrastructure and employment into account. Labour has a majority, so they can afford to implement a broader vision of what a richer, safer Aotearoa would look like.

    • I hope your not impying that we should stop punishing the poor for being poor? How dare you! Labour knows full well that the only option is to follow Nationals previous success of driving the rich richer and not even see the untouchables. The NZ caste system is almost set in concrete. Just need a couple more adjustments from Orr and Robbo and this things set in stone. Booyah!!!

    • Aurelius: “…the real game-changer may be Vienna.”

      We have extended family in Vienna: we’ve driven past that development. Our family members aren’t in state housing, but – aside from a few who own houses – they’re in housing complexes which give them long-term leases. They’re able to redecorate if they wish. No on-site carparking, but parking in their street and nearby streets. As I understand the situation, large housing trusts are the providers.

      There is private ownership of houses there, but it’s not so common. The real estate market looks nothing like ours.

      Vienna is fantastic. Austria generally, actually. It’s the archetype of the first-world country.

      It’s important to remember that social welfare has a deep history in Austria and Germany. When we were in Bavaria (where we also have family), we visited the Fuggerei in Augsburg:

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuggerei

      Note that the founder – Jakob Fugger the Rich – was a contemporary of the Medicis.

      So in that part of the world, there’s a culture of renting, and of governments providing housing for their citizens. The neoliberal wrecking ball hasn’t fatally damaged that part of the social fabric there, as it has here.

      • I completely agree with the rich history of social security in the German-speaking world. The thing New Zealand needs is the vision to not just rectify our current social problems, but the vision to create something even better. We see social housing and public transport as necessities for the least fortunate, rather than a hassle-free utility for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully this crisis will be a catalyst not only for fixing our deep inequalities, but an opportunity for blue-skies thinking.

  9. I own one of those old houses saveNZ was talking about. Yeah I ripped up the old carpet and polished the floors then I added a heat pump (that remains off for 9 months of the year and then only goes on for a couple of hours in the evening). A kit-built kitchen refurbishment cost 10K to get rid of those appalling brown mosaic tiles.

    It’s worth about 1.4 million now with a GV of around 1.2 million. But looking at the rates assessment from Auckland Council, it says the land it worth over a million and the ‘improvements’ (the house) only $150,000. And that’s the key issue here – houses aren’t that expensive but land zoned for houses most certainly is! Given a serviced plot, any number of developers can build you a lovely, brand new house for about 300K.

    So why is housing land so expensive in a country with less population than Sydney? Where a 30 minute drive North from Auckland CBD has you going past fields and forests? Why such restrictions on building when there are vast tracts of empty land to the north? (Riverhead, Coatesville, Waitoki, Dairy flat etc) none of which is prime agricultural land – half of it is pine trees and the rest is rough grazing or lifestyle blocks.

    So, if we really want to address this problem, we must rezone land. It’s really not that hard, unless of course there are some in Council who have a vested interest in keeping house prices high…

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